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U.S. launch offers free online university courses to refugees

by Sebastien Malo | @SebastienMalo | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Tuesday, 21 June 2016 16:42 GMT

Indonesian domestic workers attend a computer class during their day off at the Sekolah Indonesia Singapura (Indonesian School) in Singapore in this December 12, 2010 file photo. REUTERS/Edgar Su

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Refugees worldwide are now able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free

(Adds expected figures from Coursera)

By Sebastien Malo

NEW YORK, June 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Refugees worldwide will be able to take more than 1,000 online university courses for free as part of an effort to provide education and skills training under a U.S.-based program launched on Monday as part of World Refugee Day.

The initiative provides access to courses at such schools as Stanford University in the United States and the University of Edinburgh in Scotland in topics from computer coding to neuroscience, said Coursera, a for-profit provider of online courses.

Typically, course fees could range from $29 U.S. to $99 U.S., it said.

The program, launched jointly with the U.S. Department of State, will allow nonprofit organizations to apply for financial aid for refugees to take courses for free.

In the first couple of months, the program is expected to reach hundreds of refugees, a Coursera spokeswoman said.

That figure is expected to grow quickly to thousands of regugees as nonprofit organizations sign up, she said.

Globally, a record 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of last year, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

"Coursera for Refugees is designed to provide as many of them as possible with greater access to education in career relevant skills, as they navigate new homes and difficult times in their lives," said Rebecca Taber, Coursera's head of government partnerships, in a statement.

The State Department will promote the courses through embassies and consulates.

"Coursera for Refugees builds on our work to help people succeed in the global economy," said Evan Ryan, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, in a statement.

Berlin-based Kiron University also provides online courses and degrees without fees to refugees, according to its website. (Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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